Rational Skepticism?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by KUMAR5, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Michael 345 Looking for Bali in Nov Valued Senior Member

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    Agree

    True knowledge sounds very Woo Woois

    Gives the impression only true knowledge counts (which only the person promoting the idea has this true knowledge) because all the other knowledge out there if fake knowledge

    Of course not ALL of the other knowledge is fake knowledge some of it is sort of fake - maybe. Some of it might be sort of true knowledge - maybe

    Nope agree a marriage between true and knowledge is not going to work

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  3. river

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    True Knowledge is gained by questioning .
     
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think that we can do that very easily in a formal mathematical sense. That creates serious problems for some of the currently popular efforts to invent probabilistic epistemic calculi.

    But at the same time, I think that we all do it informally and intuitively, by assigning plausibility weights to the various things we believe. All of us are more convinced of some things than we are of others.

    Each step in a process of scientific reasoning would seem to have its own uncertainties. I'm not sure how to quantify them or how to compound all of them together into a single uncertainty function applicable to a conclusion drawn from the whole process of concept formation, simplification, modeling, experiment, interpretation, calculation and reasoning. (I'm not yet a Bayesian.)

    But this line of of reasoning you suggest does incline me to think that some kinds of scientists, the more speculative kinds of theoretical physicists in particular, might sometimes be talking out of their butts. Their hypotheses sound wonderful and seemingly explain the deepest mysteries, but only if one accepts the reliability and truth of a whole lot of prior assumptions of uncertain plausibility. Chains of reasoning can get more and more rickety and shaky the further we extend them away from the world of experience and the more arcane and exotic the assumptions their conclusions depend on.

    I think that there's some merit to that. If we can't be sure of the truth of a belief, if we don't possess a formal epistemic function with which to calculate its reliability, the bottom line question that still remains for us is whether we are willing to commit ourselves to it and act on it anyway. (I may not have total confidence in the principles of aerodynamics... so am I nevertheless willing to get on a plane?)

    A difficulty there is that commitment to act is subjective, it's an indicator the actor's psychological state. But epistemology is more about what people should believe, given the evidence and justifications available. Epistemology, and by extension science as well, need to be more objective.

    It sounds like the argument (popular around the time of the reformation and counter-reformation in the 16th century) that if unqualified logically necessary ("absolute") knowledge is impossible about many matters that we are faced with in our lives (an idea that they derived from the renaissance humanists' rediscovery of Sextus Empiricus) then in living our real lives we must proceed instead by faith. That's why I like to define 'faith' as willingness to commit ourselves to the truth of a belief in conditions of uncertainty. (I remember arguing with JamesR about that.)

    It's also reminiscent of William James perhaps.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2018
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  7. sowhatifit'sdark Valued Senior Member

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    And you know this is valid because.....?


    They can lie. What's new?
    My point is not simply that they can lie, but that they can mistakenly evaluate their own openness. How do you know you are not mistakenly evaluating yours?


    I tend not to over think / analyse most areas of my decision making and go with my scientific gut feelings (experience)
    That's an oxymoron, or perhaps several.


    You misunderstood the scientist scenario and the points before it.


    Hope I have provided some guidance but I am skeptical about your rationality

    I am skeptical about your sense of humor. But neither ad hom skepticism matters in the discussion.
     
  8. sowhatifit'sdark Valued Senior Member

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    2,162
    Yazata :I don't think that we can do that very easily in a formal mathematical sense. That creates serious problems for some of the currently popular efforts to invent probabilistic epistemic calculi. But at the same time, I think that we all do it informally and intuitively, by assigning plausibility weights to the various things we believe. All of us are more convinced of some things than we are of others.

    Yes, we do it this way. My point was that this estimation should be really quite vulnerable to rational skepticism, and yet it rarely seems to be.

    Each step in a process of scientific reasoning would seem to have its own uncertainties. I'm not sure how to quantify them or how to compound all of them together into a single uncertainty function applicable to a conclusion drawn from the whole process of concept formation, simplification, modeling, experiment, interpretation, calculation and reasoning. (I'm not yet a Bayesian.)

    But this line of of reasoning you suggest does incline me to think that some kinds of scientists, the more speculative kinds of theoretical physicists in particular, might sometimes be talking out of their butts. Their hypotheses sound wonderful and seemingly explain the deepest mysteries, but only if one accepts the reliability and truth of a whole lot of prior assumptions of uncertain plausibility. Chains of reasoning can get more and more rickety and shaky the further we extend them away from the world of experience and the more arcane and exotic the assumptions their conclusions depend on.


    I suppose the main focus of my response above was on the implicit moral and status claims implicit when skeptics talk about their levels of conviction in contrast with people who they view as not skeptical enough. It is part of my sense that skeptics, meaning those who identify themselves as such, are much more selective in their skepticism then they present or perhaps realize. Here I am focused at a meta-level evaluation. There are also specific beliefs that many skeptics tend to not be skeptical about. Trends.


    I think that there's some merit to that. If we can't be sure of the truth of a belief, if we don't possess a formal epistemic function with which to calculate its reliability, the bottom line question that still remains for us is whether we are willing to commit ourselves to it and act on it anyway. (I may not have total confidence in the principles of aerodynamics... so am I nevertheless willing to get on a plane?)

    A difficulty there is that commitment to act is subjective, it's an indicator the actor's psychological state.


    Right. Which is why I think presenting ourselves as binary in relations to beliefs is problematic and I also find comparisons of one's own level of conviction, openness across to other minds very problematic. I would not say that someone who is afraid of flying necessarily disbelieves statistics around driving vs. flying. But I am not willing to grant them the simple pure belief that flying is safer than driving if they do not completely freak out when being driven. I think acts are better judges of what one believes in the moment AND matter more for others, in total, than reported beliefs. The consequences for me and others come into play. Assertions of belief are actions, but I distrust people's introspective abilities. And if we are talking about evaluations of conviction, I remain extremlely skeptical.


    But epistemology is more about what people should believe, given the evidence and justifications available. Epistemology, and by extension science as well, need to be more objective.

    Sure, but I am trying to be objective about other people's ability to self-evaluate, especially issues where many things can be ego-dystonic.

    It sounds like the argument (popular around the time of the reformation and counter-reformation in the 16th century) that if unqualified logically necessary ("absolute") knowledge is impossible about many matters that we are faced with in our lives (an idea that they derived from the renaissance humanists' rediscovery of Sextus Empiricus) then in living our real lives we must proceed instead by faith. That 's why I like to define 'faith' as willingness to commit ourselves to the truth of a belief in conditions of uncertainty.

    Fair enough.


     
  9. Michael 345 Looking for Bali in Nov Valued Senior Member

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    6,194
    Reoccurrence
    Distinction without a difference
    I tend to do a double check - those who over analysis go for about 20 checks. For me if 2 match I'll consider that a best guess. If I am incorrect I wait to be corrected

    This is mine from another forum about absolute (certainty) truth which I think fits here
    I've made minor changes
    ********
    I'm absolutely certain it (absolute certainty) does or it doesn't

    It seems you are looking for absolute truth

    Truth, that being what we hold to be true, is true simply because we understand something

    That something acts in a manner and from said manner we can predict future acts

    Hence it obtains the title - true

    However the title is only provisional. One prediction made - which does not occur - can create a new “truth”

    The new truth becomes “such and such acts like such and such MOST of the time”

    However the exception maybe a extremely rare event. So us observant minions may go our whole lifetime under the true understanding that such and such ALWAYS acts in a particular way when there is another truth “sometimes it doesn't”

    It boils down to - we are absolutely certain about many many activities and other stuff UNTIL the activities or other stuff act unpredictable

    Hence the “I'm absolutely certain it does or it doesn't”

    It does because we think it does. And who knows there may be such a deep seated reality which never ever deviates

    It doesn't because we don't know if that extremely rare event lurks in the background
    *******
    Stuff I am skeptical about in my skeptical evaluation does not warrant much evaluation because previous personal evaluations of "like" stuff have not yielded anything of value

    Sure I will look at photos of ghost or UFOs as curiosities. But I will look at the tracks left by quarks with much more interest

    And I will believe more what the scientists say about them than I will those who post ghost or UFO photos say about their photos

    I really don't think scientists built CERN to put out information the equivalent of cute kittens or of out of focus UFOs

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